Friday, 18 March 2022

Season Review 2021/22


Another season is in the history books. Once again it was light on pike, and once again the local barbel provided the main distraction. A few away days, roach, bream, a magnificent trout and even a few pike - so here it is - the traditional season review, my thirteenth since I started the blog, written monthly as I went along...


June: I managed to hit the Small River five times during the opening two weeks (one full day and 4 afternoons). Action was explosive with 62 barbel landed - plus a small carp, a pound plus eel and about a dozen chub! The bigger barbel are eluding me but hopefully I'll track them down. Cracking start to the season!!


July: Extreme weather; a heatwave followed by storms and flooding. The barbel fishing was still hectic, small fish, but I cracked my Barbel Challenge - 104 barbel! And mission with the stick 'n' pin resulted in a mixed bag including some lovely gudgeon. With the 100 barbel target in the bag I really need to locate some bigger specimens...


August: Still trying to track down a bigger barbel - best of the month was a 7lb 3oz beauty. I did land a surprise new PB eel - on bread! As a break from the barbel, a trip to the Itchen resulted in a couple of pound plus roach and five bream. And a wander along a neglected chalk stream provided some cracking wild brown trout.


September: A return to the chalk stream produced the most stunning wild brown trout I've ever seen. A quick mission to the Small River saw a double figure barbel added to the season. And three days on the very low, clear River Wye produced some fantastic chub and barbel action. Small River summer barbel count: 140.


October: I was continuing to catch barbel - including a double. And landed barbel number 1,200 of the twelve seasons I've fished the Small River - taking my season average to 100 barbel! The other highlight was a fantastic away-day stalking grayling in a little chalk stream - great stuff. But I need to catch a pike!


November: Started with a bit of prospecting - three trips searching for a pike in a new little river. Two runs, one lost pike but none landed - I will be back - the search for local(ish) pike continues. And a couple of quick barbel missions to get a bend in the rod rounded out the month. Oh, and I caught a fifty pound note!!


December: Not much fishing! A couple of trips chasing winter barbel resulted in 10 barbel and 3 chub. Almost out of time to land a 2021 pike - a trip to the Kentish Stour provided the run I needed. And a trip back to my home turf River Wye proved tough going, just one pike landed - but a Christmas cracker at 18lb 10oz.


January: A couple more Wye pike sessions saw Paulos bag a 19lb 4oz beauty and I added 2 more including a double. A wander down The Itchen saw grayling, trout and 15 stunning roach landed. Back to the Small River saw four more barbel added to the count in cold conditions. And a new river, Bourne gudgeon for good measure!


February: A stormy month; gale force winds and most of the rivers in flood - plans to target pike were hatched and then foiled a few times! And the chalk stream dace proved elusive - but the chub, roach and trout were obliging! A couple of barbel trips also provided a welcome bend in the rod. Onto the final two weeks of the season...


March: An afternoon on the Small River took my count up to 180 barbel (or 194 including the ones from The Wye). And a three day mission to some southern rivers added three jack pike, a stunning season's best 5lb 8oz chub and six more bream to the season. Looking back it was another cracker - roll on the next one...

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Barbel Challenge 2021/22


The initial challenge was to bank 100 Small River barbel - achieved in the first two months. Then I set my sights on 1,200 barbel over the 12 seasons I've fished it - 50 more - to take my average to 100 barbel per season. Cracked it! A total of 180 barbel - great stuff!!

Pike Challenge next season! And full season report to follow.

 Season No 5+ 7+ 10+ Best
 2010/11 27 1 0 0 6lb 6oz
 2011/12 44 14 8 0 9lb 12oz
 2012/13 56 34 20 6 12lb 4oz
 2013/14 8 5 4 0 7lb 13oz
 2014/15 71 33 16 1 10lb 1oz
 2015/16 127 45 15 0 9lb 4oz
 2016/17 70 31 15 2 11lb 15oz
 2017/18 132 56 23 2 10lb 9oz
 2018/19 101 36 13 1 10lb 3oz
 2019/20 164 69 28 5 12lb 1oz
 2020/21 250 77 20 6 14lb 2oz
 2021/22 180 34 8 2 11lb 1oz
 Total: 1,230 435 170 25 Breakdown

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Pike Quest

My season has been very light on pike - so I thought I'd join James on his three day southern river barbel quest - he was keen to add another barbel to his 40 rivers challenge - I'd be targeting pike...

Day 1: An early start and we headed to The Stour. I'll leave James' trip to his blog. I wandered about with a deadbait and the lure gear - and soon hit a jack on a plug - not a monster but a great start...

The afternoon was cold and windy - I added another jack - before a big pike swirled at the lure, upper double, perhaps even a twenty - but I couldn't tempt her on deadbaits or a lure...

Day 2: After a very cold night on the riverbank, I went back to find the big pike. No luck - moved? Wasn't feeding? - I did land jack number three - but it was time to move on...

A faster paced section of The Stour - so I abandoned the pike and rolled meat. A few knocks in the fast water before I connected with a hard fighting 5lb 8oz chub - my best of the season...

Day 3: Arriving at The Itchen before midnight I tried to find a roach (I don't fish at night but this was my best chance). No roach but 6 bream to about 5lb before sunrise - and some early season butterflies...

It got brighter and the fish disappeared - final river - The Bourne on the way home. No pike but a few small roach and perch in the sunshine was a nice end to the trip (and season). Cheers James.


Three days made me realise just how difficult James' 40 rivers, 40 doubles Barbel Quest is going to be. If you missed it - double number 12 of 40 is here. Edit: and number 13 is here!

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Haywire!


These are crazy times - I think I'll just leave it there - this is a fishing blog. Let's just hope peace is restored as quickly as possible.


I left the news and escaped to the sanity of the riverbank - four barbel and 3 chub found the net - only 9 days left of the season!

Thursday, 24 February 2022

All Change


There has been a couple of storms since I last went barbel fishing - two big floods (and a bit of wind). A lot of trees have blown over, some into the river, and the riverbed has changed drastically.


Where there were deep runs have been filled in, new holes and features have appeared and new cover in the shape of rafts hanging off trees - and the barbel have quickly adapted to their new home.


Time for a wander, have a look at what has changed and hopefully bag a barbel! Well, they've moved - but I did find two - great stuff. The game of hide and seek has been reset - and I love it!

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Dace Hunt


With most of the rivers in flood it seemed like a good time to try and find a chalk stream dace. But where were they? I couldn't find them - and to cut a short story shorter - 4 trout, 2 chub, a roach, a gudgeon and an Iron Man found the net. The 2oz gonk being the highlight!


Monday, 14 February 2022

Four Weeks


Just four more weeks left of the season - you knew that - but it's an excuse to publish this underwater barbel photo! What are your plans? I'd really like to add a few more pike to my season - got to get on it - those 4 weeks will soon fly past...

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Unmissable


A mild afternoon (fool's spring) so I hit the river. The barbel were on the feed; five landed to about 6lb (one about 4½lb pictured), two lost to hook-pulls and some extraordinary missed bites...

I missed seven or eight bites - holding the rod the barbel nearly ripped it from my hands - and I struck into thin air! Once or twice perhaps but 7 or 8 times - how do they do that?

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Minonsters II


Back to the minnow shoal, armed with some ropy bait (it's not worth buying maggots from Decathlon). Time to put a weight to these monsters - except the minnows were mostly minnow sized!

There were a few bigger ones but nowhere near the size we found before - did we missed our chance to weigh a monster? Time for a mooch about - see what else fancied some ropy maggots...


Three chub...


Three OOS brown trout...


And one of these!

Monday, 31 January 2022

Winter Stunner


No bait for minnows - but I went to check they were still there - perhaps a couple of hundred of them (not thousands as we first thought) - next week monster minnows - they're only getting bigger!

Just enough time to bag a couple of barbel while I was there - including this stunner in her winter colours. I rarely take more than one photo of a fish when on my own but made an exception this time!